For her first exhibition on the West Coast, Jennie Smith introduces a root idea in her visual lexicon: shelter. While her work contains some of the imaginary narratives and skillful use of negative space seen in the work of Amy Cutler and Marcel Dzama (two artists who have helped revive an excitement for drawing in contemporary art), Smith's focus is on psycho-architecture.
In the untitled drawing on the right (watercolor and pencil on paper), miniature replicas of man-made shelters are culled from a world survey to form not a postmodern superarchitecture but a pile of semifunctional structures. Each structure stands as a signifier of a history, culture, and formal aesthetic. The psychological weight of all these sampled architectures conjures the mnemonic palimpsest of the global traveler.
In The Poetics of Space (1957), Gaston Bachelard argues that shells are worthy of phenomenological inquiry and that, as inhabited spaces, they carry a kind of emotional charge. In Smith's other drawings, the moody undercurrent of these natural architectures is made visible as the shells are given features and a shifty-eyed pathos, and the mollusks themselves are reconsidered as creatures inhabiting a kind of intimate space.
Jennie Smith was born in San Francisco, and has lived in Rhode Island and Minnesota. She received her BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design and has been included in exhibitions at Soo Visual Arts in Minneapolis and the 2006 Whitney Biennial. Her work will be exhibited this summer at the Rena Bransten gallery in San Francisco.
The Bulletin Board has been supported by a generous grant from Art For Art's Sake, New York.